Sudden weight gain? You’re eating all the cake!

A reader writes:

I am 24, 5’9″ and currently 240lbs. I gained a bit of weight over the years between the age of 17 (where I was 150lbs) and 22, but my highest was only ever around 185lbs, which is not TOO bad for my height. Despite this I hated the weight gain, it made me deeply depressed and set me up on a binge/purge cycle I am still struggling to break. Incidentally at 170lbs a nurse told me my bc pill wouldn’t work as I was too overweight! At that weight my bmi was just inside the high end of normal.

Anyway, approximately 2 years ago now I gained 55lbs in just 10 weeks. It was ridiculously sudden. Just like that none of my clothes fit etc. Shortly afterwards I was diagnosed with a condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension – basically high pressure around the brain. Idiopathic means ‘of unknown causes’. It is related to being overweight and there is some evidence of it being linked to hormones but basically it’s not very well understood.

I had to have a procedure that required me to lay flat for awhile afterwards. I had a single pillow. My neurologist came into the ward after the procedure (I was on my own and a bit tearful as it is not a nice procedure). He walked up, jerked the pillow out from under my head and said, I quote, “this is all because of your weight”. Then he left. At no point did he consider it odd I had gained weight so quickly for no reason.

Later I saw another neurologist who asked about my weight. Specifically, he said “how did you gain so much weight”. I responded with some ideas I had about stress levels at the time but that overall I wasn’t sure why it had been so rapid. He cut me off mid sentence and said “are you telling me it’s not just because you don’t eat too much”, then he scoffed and sent me on my way.

Now I am undergoing tests for pcos as I have acne, hair loss, low vitamin D, skin tags. I get results from bloods tomorrow. But my GP said “can you just *try* to lose weight?”. I broke down, told her that it’s all I ever think about, every waking hour, I am miserable and doing everything I can. She nodded sympathetically and told me to keep trying…

I don’t understand?! Why do none of them think it’s weird that I gained so much so quickly and now am presenting with potentially two hormone related illnesses? There is no curiosity. They just look at me like I eat all the cake.

I also had 5 months of a personal trainer, nutrition and exercise. I paid by credit card. I followed it to the letter. I lost 6 lbs. Again, no Dr seems to think that’s odd. They just assume I am lying, basically. It makes me feel so small.

Leave a comment


  1. mbnh31782

     /  September 20, 2014

    Wow, so much of this echos my own story. Especially the personal trainer part (lost 3 lbs in 9 months with mine) Keep looking for doctors that are not focused on your weight but your health instead. I keep getting told that since i take a diabetic med (for PCOS) that i MUST be diabetic. My a1c level is 5.6 – diabetic level – 7 or above.

    • Oh my gosh, I get that all the time. What is especially frustrating is that all my test records going back at least 10 years are in the computer. I’ve never had a high A1C.

      To the original writer, good luck finding answers. If you can, keep us informed, in case it can help others.

      I had to fight for 15 years to get on thyroid meds, they haven’t made me thinner, but the weight gain has finally stopped and I just feel better overall. Good luck to you!

  2. Many health professionals, whether medically qualified, or unqualified but working in areas such as fitness or weight loss, are caught up in the “calories in/calories out” paradigm and simply make a surface assumption that overweight people are lying.

    Unfortunately it appears there’s no “magic bullet” strategy that can help everyone and each of us who is experiencing unexplained overweight or weight gain, has no choice but to keep searching until we find our own answer.

    At the same time we need to stack things as much as possible in our favour, and I think gather our evidence, by keeping food and exercise logs.

    I you haven’t tried 5:2 before it could be that this is it for you. I certainly hope so because I understand the the pain and frustration.

  3. Gaining that much weight in such a short amount of time would be a huge red flag for me. What the hell is wrong with these doctors? They’re more interested in shaming someone for not looking like a supermodel than they are in a person’s health.

  4. Yikes! That much weight in that short a time is obviously hormones. I can’t imagine how much “food” that would take as no one’s been able to do it. So sorry for you. I gained 50 pounds in a year when I was 18, due to PCOS and another 70 over 7 yrs due to undiagnosed lactose intolerance.

  5. toxicnudibranch

     /  October 1, 2014

    Egads! I’m so sorry you’ve gotten such a huge brush-off. I also could have written your post, almost verbatim.

    My advice? If you haven’t already, get thee to an endocrinologist. STAT! All the stuff you’re experiencing? Well, it could be PCOS, but it could also be a thyroid, or even an adrenal or pituitary disorder. Mine ended up being Cushing’s.

  6. This is awful. I once lost so much weight rapidly even though I ate normal, I went down to 40 Kgs in three months while being in pain all the time for two years. Instead of finding the ulcerated duct from pancreas to small intestine, they congratulated me for looking so healthy and loosing so much weight. WTF! I went through over 10 doctors of various speciality, who told me that I suffer from depression, anxiety to IBS…Until I left the country, went to my families home country and there they found the ulceration. Two weeks later I was healed, and gained all my glorious weight back during the last year.
    I absolutely loathe those weight shaming, sexist idiot doctors who either diagnose you for being overweight or simply hysterical. Of course I am hysterical when I am in pain 24/7 for two years!

    • I know this is an old post but my mother lost get job in the last year as she lost much weight in a very short period of time and was unable to absorb any nutrients from food. Again she was congratulated on being so thin even though the woman is shivering in 35C heat. The idiocy is mind boggling

  7. I am very sorry to hear that these doctors have been so rude and merciless towards you. It is completely ridiculous that all they focus on is the fact that you physically don’t meet societal’s unachievable ideal of a body. Hello? Earth to doctors! It is about your patient. The thought of the amount of food you would have had to have eaten is profuse! Clearly, they are just basing their words by the “you are what you eat” model and the exercise is the answer. Be fit and work out. The only rule is you can’t be lazy. However, they are ignorant because they are putting society over your personal case. For a doctor this is completely unacceptable.

  8. I know this has been up a while but I absolutely have to comment. You need to get checked for Cushing’s Disease. Here’s a link Sudden weight gain is a key symptom, along with being unable to lose weight even with proper nutrition and exercise.

    I hope this has been figured out but if not, please considering looking into Cushing’s!

  9. Hiya haven’t been back for awhile. I got pregnant shortly after this post… and all my symptoms disappeared. Hair stopped falling out, acne cleared up, no more skin tags, intrcranial hypertension stopped, and I lost weight during the pregnancy until the final fortnight. I’ve since lost a further 2 stone without trying. However now my baby is almost 4 months and the symptoms are creeping back. Weight loss has stalled. It’s got to be hormonal right?! Am going to ask for endocrinology referral.
    Hope everyone is well.

  10. Thank you for the update! Please reply again after confirming “officially “?

    • Will do 🙂

      Interestingly, when I had my first consultant appointment at 12 weeks the doc said I need to eat healthy as, and I quote, “babies don’t need cream cakes and Mars bars”…. wonder if she’d have said that to a slim mum to be?
      Not one doc or midwife gave a shit that I lost 10lbs during the pregnancy, only regaining it at the end (baby weighed 8 though so it all went again at the birth).
      Honestly no doc I’ve met seems to have en enquiring mind. Just a judgemental one.

  11. This is an interesting point to make. I believe that often times people who gain a lot of weight tend to avoid their regular check-ups. What compounds from there are any underlying health issues that they have slapped a band-aid on for God knows how long. What’s more interesting is that physical training is such a trend in much of the Western world, but people fail to realize that the certifications attained by most physical trainers require the clients to assume much of their own risk and still consult with doctors before engaging in rigorous exercise. Whenever I read about students on school sports teams collapsing on the courts and fields I can only imagine how many severely overweight people do the same thing when exercising.

  12. Jane Heyer

     /  September 3, 2019

    Please update this, if you can. I’m interested to know how you are, and what if anything happened regarding a diagnosis.


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